Archives for posts with tag: politics
Today, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments in gerrymandering cases from North Carolina and Virginia. Plaintiffs claim that GOP lawmakers in the two states excessively packed black voters into congressional and state legislative districts, thus diluting the influence of black voters. Attorneys for the majority lawmakers, in contrast, claim they are merely complying with provisions of the Voting Rights Act by creating majority-minority districts to enhance the representation of minority voters.
However the Court rules, it is important that context matters when drawing minority access districts. My colleagues (Will Hicks, Appalachian State; Carl Klarner, University of Florida; Seth McKee, Texas Tech) have a paper that examines the likelihood of electing African Americans to state legislatures, comparing the threshold of black voting age population needed to elect a black lawmaker in Southern and Non-Southern states over time. We also look across states within the South. Suffice to say, there’s a considerable difference across regions, and even within the South, of how packed a district needs to be in order for voters to have the ability to elect an African American to the state legislature.

We find that the black population threshold required for a Deep South (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina) state legislative district to elect a black lawmaker is significantly higher than the black population threshold in districts in Rim South or Non-South states. The figure below graphs the probability a district elects a black legislator conditional on region and the size of that district’s black population.

figure-6-hmks

The probability a district elects a black lawmaker in the Deep South (left panel) versus the Rim South (right panel) depends on the size of a district’s black population. Across the three decades for the given election periods, it is clear that black legislators are elected with smaller black populations in the Rim South relative to the Deep South.  In 1993-1995, for example, the probability that a Deep South district elects a black lawmaker reaches 0.5 (even odds) when the black population is between 54 and 55 percent. In that same period, the probability a district in the Rim South elects a black legislator reaches 0.5 when the black population is between 49 and 50 percent. This 5 percentage-point difference nearly doubles in 2003-2005 (52 to 53 percent for the Deep South versus 43 to 44 percent for the Rim South) and in 2013-2015 (48 to 49 percent for the Deep South versus 40 to 41 percent for the Rim South).

Beyond the pressing normative views regarding the broader political and representational implications of the relationship between majority-minority districts and black representation, our empirical analysis indicates an inexorable dynamic in party politics. Our findings leave no doubt that a considerable reduction in majority-minority state legislative district populations can be accomplished while ensuring black descriptive representation. In light of the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which scrapped the federal enforcement of the Section 5 preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act, we expect in the next decennial round of redistricting most Democrats will push for a reduction in the size of minority populations in majority-minority districts, while almost every Republican will continue to insist that majority-black districts should remain as is, or better yet, contain even higher African-American populations.

It’s possible.

According to data supplied to me today from Chris Cate, spokesperson for the Florida Secretary of State, between April 11, 2012 and June 14, 2012, 107 people have been removed from the state’s voter rolls on account of being a suspected noncitizen.  As an aside, that’s roughly 0.00095536% of the 11.2 million people currently registered to vote in the Sunshine State.

Of those removed from the voter rolls for being suspected noncitizens, 86 were excised between April 11 and June 8; an additional 21 people were purged the following week.

Residents living in Lee County accounted for more than 41% (44/107) of those purged from the voter rolls.  A recent story by Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald reported that Lee County (along with Collier County) apparently were “continuing with the program of purging potential noncitizens if they fail to respond to the counties’ requests to proof citizenship.”

What’s surprising, though, is the fact that the office of the Florida Secretary of State–in its flawed, and widely discredited effort to identify noncitizens–only provided the Lee County Supervisor of Elections, Sharon Harrington, the names of 13 potential noncitizens.  That’s 13 names of potential noncitizens from the state’s pared-down list of 2,625 names that the Division of Elections sent to the state’s 67 local elections officials back in May.

According to my analysis of the data, of the 44 registered voters in Lee County that the state has removed from the voter file, only two were on the state’s list of 13 potential noncitizens.

So, how did Lee County officials determine on their own that 42 other individuals on the voter rolls were supposedly noncitzens? Did they have access to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s elusive SAVE database?

Hardly.

According to Caputo, Lee County’s SOE Harrington evidently decided to purge voters from her list after “a local television station compared the voter files with the names of people who got out of jury service by saying they were noncitizens.”

Seriously?

While I certainly don’t condone fibbing to get out of jury duty, it’s troubling that Lee County is apparently using statements made by individuals to avoid jury duty to establish whether or not they are U.S. citizens.  It’s not uncommon for people to lie to avoid serving on a jury.  And those who are caught doing so, face severe penalties.

But should they also be disenfranchised?

The staff of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board earlier this week recommended to the Board that there were a sufficient number of valid signatures on the recall petitions submitted for Governor Walker and Lt. Governor Kleefisch to order a recall election.

Were there ever!

The staff’s reports are available on the Board’s website.

Here’s a helpful summary of the staff’s findings.

Officeholder Signatures Submitted Signatures Struck by Staff Duplicates Struck Valid Signatures
Gov. Walker 931,053 26,114 4,001 900,938
Lt. Gov. Kleefisch 842,854 29,601 4,263 808,990

I’ve been studying ballot initiatives for some time now (nearly 20 years), and I have to admit, I am stunned by the high validity rate for the recall elections. I’ve been involved as an expert in lawsuits, hired to defend and challenge the legitimacy of signatures gathered for initiative and popular referendum petitions which have a far lower rate. For example, in the state of Washington, as I document with Todd Donovan in our 2008 book chapter on the incidence of signature gathering fraud in ballot measure campaigns, an average of nearly 19% of signatures submitted on initiative and popular referendum petitions between 1990 and 2006 were ruled to be invalid, mostly due to names on petitions not being found in the voter file. And compared with other states, Washington has a fairly high validity rate for signatures submitted on petitions.

Perhaps we should expect the validity rates for signatures collected in recall elections should be higher than those collected in initiative and popular referendum campaigns, but I’m at a loss to explain why. The same tactics used by recall petitioners are used by those collecting the signatures in I&R campaigns. Some gatherers are volunteers, others are paid, sometimes incentives or bounties for valid signatures are offered the proponents. So why the outstanding validity rate?

Whatever the reason, we should expect that many of the 900,000 plus Cheeseheads who signed a petition and who are registered to vote (which is not a requirement to sign a valid recall petition in Wisconsin) will be likely to turn out to vote in the upcoming recall elections, even if many of them are not regular voters.

My just-published article with Janine Parry and Shane Henry, “The Impact of Petition Signing on Voter Turnout,” reveals that those who sign ballot initiative petitions, controlling for a host of other factors, are more likely to turn out to vote, especially in low-turnout but high salience elections, like the June 5 recall elections are likely to be.

My scholarly hat is off to the recall petitioners for their truly impressive feat, and I look forward to delving into the petition data in the coming months.

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